Breeze not logged in
Date: November 27, 2019 05:12AM
Some of you have written about the social awkwardness you feel, after leaving the Mormon cult, and especially your discomfort in being around Mormons. Many of you have been shunned and maligned by Mormons family members and former “friends.”
Another problem I share with many of you is my not knowing what I want, and don’t want. I have spent a lifetime catering to the dominant Mormons in my family, being obedient to their wishes, trying to second-guess what would make THEM happy, with little consideration of my own wishes and preferences. We try to do the “right” thing, instead of what is the best thing for our happiness and well-being. Whenever someone writes, “I don’t know who I am”, I understand this.
The Christmas season is approaching, and I’m already receiving invitations to various parties, open houses, and other activities with friends. My aunt, who was a great lady whom I admired always told us, “Never turn down an invitation,” and I have said, “yes” to most, and am really looking forward to the parties.
But, for some reason, I haven’t been able to reply my ex-sister-in-law’s invitation. She has invited all of my in-laws’ remaining family members, and their children, including all of my children and grandchildren, to a lovely dinner. She and her husband and I were friends at BYU, and we double-dated with my ex, and they include me, because I’m the mother of their nieces and nephews, and we laugh and have a good time…but the four times my ex and his new wife decided to show up, my SIL called and told me not to come!
I won’t go into detail, but this fanatical-Mormon in-law family (I’ll call them the Smith family) has been terribly dysfunctional, with suicides, drug addictions, and adultery. The reason adultery depresses me is that my ex cheated on me for our entire marriage and I didn’t know about it, until several years after he left us! I did know that he didn’t love us, as he was physically and mentally abusive—a real jerk! My ex’s brother cheated on his wife also, and the two of them had always covered up for each other. I’ll never know if the SIL-who-is-having-the-dinner or her parents knew about the multiple affairs, but SIL’s husband knew.
My ex abandoned his children, totally, with no contact at all for 6 years, and then, a Christmas card, once a year. He gave no acknowledgement of their graduations, birthdays, weddings, birth of their children, over many, many years. My Smith in-laws blamed us wives and not their sons for the divorces. They ignored our children, because they felt the divorces nullified the temple sealings, and, therefore their sons’ children were no longer sealed to them as their “eternal grandchildren.” The Smith’s broke off all contact with our children, even though they lived a few blocks away. This abandonment and betrayal by both fathers, plus the Smith grandparents, deeply hurt our children, and one cousin committed suicide. She left a note, so there was no doubt about the cause of her despair.
After the suicide, I stopped my one-sided efforts to keep a relationship with the Smith in-laws. I was frightened. I was also broke, with no alimony or child support, and I moved across the city, where I could be close to my new job, and housing was less expensive. My own parents were deceased.
I’m proud of my children! Ours is a success story! My children became a good influence on their cousins, and at various times, tried to help them get off of drugs, and with employment, and my daughter introduced her cousin to the man her cousin married. My children have been good friends to the Smiths.
Ten years later, the Smith in-laws died, and my SIL and her husband began inviting us to their family Christmastime dinner. She is trying to carry on the tradition that the Smith in-laws had before their sons got divorced. My ex and his brother never went to SIL’s dinners. My sons didn’t want to go, so I didn’t force them, but my daughter wanted to go, a few times, so we went, off and on. Sometimes our work and other obligations got in the way. It isn’t a tradition set in stone, except now, as adults, my children go every year.
When my children became adults, they visited their father, on their own, and the visits were painful for them. He is nasty and rejecting. They have made special visits to show him each new grandchild, but he seemed indifferent.
There is so much more to tell, but I’ll get to the point.
I’ve known these people for over 25 years, now, but it has been off and on. I care about my SIL and her kids, as messed-up as they are, and as fanatically Mormon as they are. They still consider me to be their “aunt.” But, somehow, I feel that I would like to put everything behind me, like, it’s over. They are not really MY family. My children are adults, and can carry on as they see fit. One of my sons doesn’t want his kids to think being on drugs is OK. The dysfunction is continuing on into the next generation. A few of them have left the cult, so they are more accepting of our disbelief. I’m less accepting of their on-going mental problems and drug problems, and I feel that there is absolutely nothing we can do to help them at this point. I don’t want my kids to think I condone that lifestyle, or what their father did was OK, or that denial is normal, or that it is necessary to be fake.
I don’t want to be awful, and abandon people, like my ex and the Smith’s did to us. But I don’t want to feel awkward and out-of-place, anymore. I don’t want to go and be reminded of my abusive, cheating ex, and my niece’s suicide, and those dark days of being beaten and demeaned, as a submissive Mormon wife. I have pity for these people. Yet, there’s the temptation to “dress for success” , and brag, and show everyone how great my children are, and how well our lives have turned out. Or, should I (we) not care what others think, and continue to move on with our lives, in our own direction, as we have done. Even in moderation, once a year, this contact gives me PTSD flashbacks.
If I want to forget the bad stuff, must I also forget the good stuff associated with it?
Should I un-friend my ex’s sister, in order to get over the haunting PTSD and nightmares of my ex? Do I owe them anything? What would my children think of me, if I ditch the dinner and go off with my own cousins, instead? Do I need to make a stand for what is good and noble, or just let it go? I’m so confused, and I don’t know what I really WANT to do. What I want to do is recover.
After last year’s dinner, I felt depressed for days. Waaa-waaa, am I just whining? They commented on how much one of my sons looks like his ugly troll of a father. They talked about what lovely parents and grandparents the Smiths were. They took photos of the kids and me, for my ex to leer at on Facebook, and he doesn’t even bother to call them on the phone. Ordinarily, I love parties and socializing….Why am I having so much anxiety over this one party? I. Need. Help.
It’s 3:00 am.